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How Fleet Owners Are Saving Money: 5 Fuel Efficiency Technologies

Truck Fuel Efficiency Thunder Funding

Image courtesy of Volvo Trucks

In its last Annual Fleet Fuel Study, the NAFCE tracked 85 technologies and practices the top 20 North American fleets found most useful in helping them achieve their fuel efficiency goals. Starting the new year with efficiency and cost savings in mind is a great way to keep fleets focused on growth and profitability.

Here are five fuel efficiency technologies and processes we think are accessible to fleets both big and small:

 

1. Idle Reduction Technologies


When hoteling in their trucks, truck drivers must run their engines to stay warm or cool while resting -- especially during times of extreme weather conditions. However, the extended idling is costly to the fleet owner and to the environment. According to the EPA, long-duration truck idling results in the following estimated -- and, highly troubling -- annual numbers:

  • 1 billion gallons of fuel consumption
  • 11 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • 180,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • 5,000 tons of particulate matter (PM)


This is where Idle Reduction Technologies (IRT) come into play. IRT devices allow drivers to shut down the truck’s main propulsion engine, thus significantly reducing idling. An IRT device such as an auxiliary power unit and generator set is generally installed on a truck or is available at a location like a truck stop. It’s main benefit is that it acts as an alternate power source to help operate the heating, air conditioning, and electrical aspects of a truck while it is parked -- all without having to access the main drive engine for power.

 

2. Solar Panels


Batteries on today’s trucks are simply not able to meet the power needs of newer trucks. Some fleet owners are installing solar panels on truck trailers to supplement the power coming from the alternator. Solar panels can also provide additional charging capacity for reefer units, electric liftgates, refrigerated trailer diesel power units, and telematics devices, which is a massive bonus.

The question with this particular technology is whether or not fleet owners will be able to recover their upfront costs in long term savings. While the average truck has a 10-year life span, many fleet owners sell their trucks after four to five years of operation. Having said this, solar panels on trucks are getting lighter and more sophisticated. If manufacturers can find a way to make them more affordable and thus help fleet operators recover their initial investments quicker, solar panels could prove to be an excellent way to save on fuel costs.

 

3. Low Rolling Resistance Tires


Rolling resistance makes up 30% to 33% of the total fuel cost of a Class 8 truck. So, if you haven’t already installed low rolling resistance tires on your trucks, we recommend you put it on the maintenance list for 2020.

In a nutshell, low rolling resistance tires reduce the resistance that’s caused by tires rolling on the surface of a roadway. By reducing this resistance, trucks require less energy and fuel to move.

 

4. Electronic Engine Parameters

Optimizing a truck’s electronic engine parameters is a great way to increase fuel economy. However, it requires time and careful tracking to finetune settings enough to get an actual boost in MPGs. And, if done properly, fuel economy gains of 0.5 mpg to as much as 8% can be realized.

Here are some best practices that large fleets are using with their electronic engine parameters as noted by the NAFCE:

    • Keeping a clear and concise record of parameter settings.
    • Developing a template that covers a group of similarly spec’d trucks.
    • Performing pilot reviews with manufacturer parameter experts.
    • Verifying that vehicles are set up correctly.
    • Having the proper tools and training fleet and dealer employees to change parameters for optimal performance.

 

5. Driver Training


        Did you know that a truck driver has up to a 30% impact on his or her vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency? Buying and installing a fuel-saving technology is simply not enough. The
Run On Less
      initiative has a number of great tips for how truckers can modify the way they drive a vehicle to get the most miles out of every gallon, thus proving that drivers play a massive role in how efficiently a truck performs:


      • Accelerate gently
      • Maintain a steady speed
      • Anticipate traffic
      • Avoid high speeds
      • Coast to decelerate


While these tips seem obvious, ensuring drivers take the time and care to implement them is more challenging. Ongoing driver training and consistent communication is critical to ensuring more favorable driving habits are developed and stuck to.

As you can see, Truck Fuel Efficiency will remain a hot topic in 2020. What are you doing to improve your fleet's fuel savings?

Be sure to check out our blog for more  news and trends on fuel efficiency in commercial trucks from the team at Thunder Funding! 

 

Topics: Fuel Efficiency